Privilege is a responsibility, but not a cause for shame.

Image by Elias Sch. from Pixabay

“Privilege” doesn’t mean what it used to.

My conservative cousin asked me what “privilege” means to me. The word used to mean wealth especially inherited wealth, but recently he’d heard progressives using it in new ways. He wondered, does white privilege mean the wealth that comes from whiteness?

It’s useful, but it often gets misused

Photo by Viktor Talashuk on Unsplash

What is white fragility, anyway?

The phrase “white fragility” first made the rounds in progressive circles a few years ago, then became more common after George Floyd’s death, when Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility zoomed to the top of the New York Times bestseller list. I think the term has its place — but I’m concerned that it’s getting misused.

“In a nutshell, it’s the defensive reactions so many white people have when our racial worldviews, positions, or advantages are questioned or challenged. …

Compassionate dialogue can do the same for you

Image by Pezibear on Pixabay

Compassion and progressive activism go hand in hand

A decade ago, I was living in Madison, Wisconsin when Republicans swept all three branches of Wisconsin’s state government — an alarming sea change for Dems in a state that had voted for the Democratic Presidential candidate in every election since 1988.

It’s not about fairness; it’s about communication.

A sticker that says “be kind” with a heart, on a wall splashed with paint.
A sticker that says “be kind” with a heart, on a wall splashed with paint.
Photo by Randalyn Hill on Unsplash

As an advocate for respectful political discourse, I sometimes get asked what to do about jerks. Do we have to be kind to them? Kindness and respect are wonderful, but if someone’s being belligerent, shouldn’t we stand up to them? After all, we don’t owe them anything.

Reason 1: The Message Is the Goal

Yes, it’s unfair when one person is more respectful than the other in conversation. It’s challenging to be on the receiving end of disrespect…

I am one of the few Americans who watched both the Democratic and the Republican National Conventions. I watched almost all of both of them — around seventeen hours in total! If you watched parts of one but not the other, I highly recommend balancing that out. (You can find them on YouTube.)

First, I felt anger. There were So. Many. Lies.

There were lies by omission. Trump…

The video of Jacob Blake’s shooting in Wisconsin is shocking. The police officer follows Blake around his car, feebly tugs at his shirt to get him to stop leaning into the car, then swiftly shoots him several times in the back. It all happens in just a few seconds. When I saw it on Monday, I felt jolted as though struck by lightning.

Last night was the first night of the virtual Democratic National Convention, and I watched the whole thing. I missed the DNC four years ago because I was laid up in a hospital for much of the summer, too sick to handle any political news. This year, I’m grateful to be able-bodied enough to take it in.

Katie Songer

I’m a memoir writer, blogger, and sometimes-speaker with a passion for civil discourse. I also write about chronic illness and more!

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